Oxford Speaks to host Nancy Pelosi, Gideon Levy, amongst others

The Oxford Student can reveal that the lineup for student speaker society Oxford Speaks this Trinity includes former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, and Baroness Brenda Hale, the former president of the U.K. Supreme Court.

Pelosi, a veteran Democratic politician who served as Speaker of the House under Presidents George Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden, will appear in Week 1. Nimko Ali, a British-Somali social activist and CEO of The Five Foundation, a campaign to end female genital mutilation, will also speak that week.

Baroness Hale will speak in Week 6. Hale became an honorary fellow of Merton College in 2021 and is an ardent women’s rights advocate, publicly criticising the Garrick Club for its mens-only admission policy.

Levy will speak in Week 7. Levy is a journalist who has written prominently for Israeli newspaper Haaretz, and is a public advocate for a one-state solution.

He has repeatedly criticised the Israeli government for its policy on illegal settlements, arguing that the construction of settlements on private Palestinian land is “the most criminal enterprise in Israel’s history”.

Other speakers include Shirin Ebadi, and Iranian lawyer and writer: Daron Acemoglu, a prominent Turkish-American economist; Henrietta Bowden Jones, a noted medical doctor; and Elizabeth Maruma, a Tanzanian biodiversity leader and author; and Lina Abu Akleh, a Palestinian activist.

Oxford Speaks was founded in Michaelmas 2023 by Sam Zia and Sophia Lee and in its short history has hosted an array of highly influential speakers. It generally does not charge membership fees, and is largely focused on international relations and global affairs.

Previous speakers include Ai Weiwei, artist and activist, Ehud Ohlmert, the former Israeli Prime Minister, and Tobias Ellwood, the prominent Conservative MP and leading voice on UK defence.

The society hosted an ongoing series in HT24 discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Its hosting of Olmert in particular was met with disapproval in some quarters, with the Oxford Palestine Society stating that “[war] criminals are not welcome on campus.”

Zia and Lee commented they are “delighted to be able to finish this year’s term card with such a stellar lineup of speakers”. They are “equally delighted” to maintain their focus on the “horrific violence in the Middle East”.

They added that their goal is “to [create] a truly intellectual space in which the change-makers of our world can be not only heard from, but engaged with and challenged.”

Image Credit: Mike Peel, via Wikimedia Commons